Virginia Costa fell in love with horses when she was just 8 years old. As a wide eyed young lady from Richmond, she was enthralled by the Middleburg Hunt when her parents brought her to see it while visiting friends in Purcellville, Virginia.
She begged her parents for riding lessons and eventually got involved with the United States Pony Club at a chapter in Richmond, Virginia —a great national organization that focuses on teaching horsemanship. She later advanced to hunter/jumper competitions right before college.
While attending the University of Richmond, Virginia rode for her college ISHA team and trained with her long time dear friend Ada Cosby of Manakin-Sabot, VA, who continues to be a large part of her life and riding. Currently Virginia rides and trains with Jonelle Mullen of TuDane Farm in Middleburg.
In this interview, Virginia talks about her intelligent and beautiful horse Marco, who she competes with in the Northern Virginia area.
How did you get Marco?
My trainer Jonelle Mullen has a knack for matching horses and riders and she helped me find him through Emil Spadone who imports a lot of horses from Europe. We were looking for a young horse that we could train for me to show. We looked at a lot of horses before finding him and he was worth the wait!
What drew you to him?
Oh gosh, with Marco it was love at first sight. He was so sweet like a big puppy dog. So cute. We tried him at a huge competition called Capital Challenge—it’s a large and busy horse show—he just trucked around in a ring of craziness and was calm, cool and collected. We knew he had a great brain and a great heart.
What made you want to start riding?
When I was 8 we visited with family friends who had a farm with horses in Purcellville. They went hunting with the Middleburg Hunt that weekend and we were able to watch – from then on, I was hooked! I have always loved animals but I was fascinated by horses after seeing the Hunt and would have done anything to ride. The tradition, formality and beauty of it all was so exciting to me as an 8 year old! I pleaded, and my parents finally relented, and I finally saved enough money to buy my first pony (with a little help!) when I was 10. I had to work to pay for board and I was happy to go every day after school to clean stalls and feed him. I eventually ended up fox hunting myself with that same pony with Deep Run Hunt Club right outside of Richmond.
How can the equestrian lifestyle be enjoyed by those who live in or visit Northern Virginia?
Whether you are a rider or a spectator, there is something you can enjoy. You can ride at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, watch Olympic qualifying events in The Plains, tailgate at numerous races such as Gold Cup, or spectate wonderful horse shows such as the Upperville Colt & Horse Show which is the oldest show in the country. There are a number of Olympians who live and operate their businesses in Northern Virginia and the chance to watch them compete at a local venue is exciting!
What apparel do you recommend for equestrians?
I like Tailored Sportsman Breeches for equestrians, my Winston Show Coat for competing, and Ariat Monaco tall boots for the show ring. For everday barn wear, I prefer Ariat paddock boots with custom half chaps from Journeyman Saddlers in Middleburg.
Interview by Jessica Monte
To continue reading this article, check out the Winter 2018 Issue of NVSL Magazine